Antibiotic Report Short on Facts, Long on Speculation
Marlys Miller Thursday, February 11, 2010
"Like many stories on this issue, it was rather short on facts and science and long on speculation," says Richard Carnevale, DVM, and vice president of the Animal Health Institute, about this week's CBS Evening News report on antibiotic use in animal agriculture and potential antibiotic resistance.
"Bacteria do not fly through the air and cause human infection, despite what the PEW spokesperson claimed in the story," he adds. "And, antibiotics are not simply used to produce cheap meat; they are used with at-risk animals to prevent disease, which is far more humane than waiting for them to get sick."
Among the plethora of misleading information was the failure to illustrate that all antibiotics used in animal agriculture are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and that the potential for residues and bacterial resistance are monitored and measured repeatedly throughout the food production and processing chain. "FDA has a very rigorous approval process," Carnevale says, and all of the products "are subject to follow-up surveillance to assure they're being used properly. The agency operates under a strict risk-assessment paradigm." As a matter of fact, FDA is the lead entity of international risk-assessment guidelines.
The CBS story failed to put into perspective the actual risk to consumers from resistant bacteria, he contends. "The CBS story focused on MRSA, which is a problem in humans, but failed to note that MRSA found in animals is not the same strain responsible for human infections," Carnevale notes. In fact last year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention sent a letter to Congress stating that food animals have not been identified as risk factors and that MRSA is not acquired through eating or handling meat. More specifically, CDC’s surveillance division reports that of the 10,000 MRSA investigated cases, none have been associated with animals. Read More
As more professionals have had more time to break down the piece about antibiotics by Katie Couric, more inaccuracies and half truths are being revealed. The information in this article is important for livestock producers to share with friends, neighbors and consumers. This serves as an important reminder for everyone that no one else is going to accurately explain what happens on our family farms and ranches. If we want it done right then we need to be actively doing it ourselves. Obviously Couric wasn’t interested in sharing the whole story with her viewers